What Do I Do With My Prodigal Son or Daughter?

A Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

What do I do with my prodigal son or daughter? Hi, welcome to today’s little lesson. I’m going to address a question, often spoken from parents, of children who have left the nest. And, tragically, those kids are not serving the Lord. And so what bit of advice would I have for such parents?

Picture of prodigal son

Well, first of all, let me say that, be honest with yourself. If in fact you recognize that you contributed to the waywardness of your child because you failed to teach them or set the right example in front of them. And maybe you weren’t even a believer when you were raising your kids. And so what did you know then? You were just a pagan living a pagan life. And of course your kids grow up and see that, and they tend to follow in your footsteps. So be honest, and then get over it.

That is, if there’s something to confess, well, then confess it to the Lord. And remember that He’s a good, merciful, and gracious God, and He forgives you.

There’s a scripture, I think, in Isaiah, it says Jesus would not even extinguish the wick of the candle that’s just smoking and there’s no flame. It’s an expression of God always being the God of hope. If there’s any hope left, He’s still optimistic, okay? And God is after your kids, like He’s after everybody. So you don’t have to worry about His part in this. He loves your prodigal son or daughter. He died for their sins.

And then another thing that you can do to work it out with the Lord is to take a step to work it out with your prodigal son or daughter. Now, every case is different, so I’m not making a general rule that it has a universal application in every situation. However, I would suggest contemplating, certainly, going to your child and asking their forgiveness for what you feel you failed at as a parent, because there’s nothing that opens hearts like humility. The humble person always wins. Let me tell you, they always win.

And so if you do feel like you’ve messed up or you blew it in some way, and maybe that, perhaps, it was a contributing factor. Now just because you blew it doesn’t mean your kids … You don’t get all the blame, right? Because there’s a lot of people who had horrible parents, and they made a choice to follow Jesus. And they turned out wonderful, okay?

So it’s not all on your shoulders, because your kid or kids have and had free will. And just because you made a mistake or blew it in a couple of ways, that doesn’t give them an excuse to say, “Well, I reject the faith of my parents.” Okay. But, anyways, if you can find something that you feel that you’ve blew it on, then here’s a way to … You’re not a Bible thumper now. You’re a Christian, yeah, humble, gracious, merciful, real, not just religious, not just phony, but you’re the real deal.

And so the real deal people acknowledge when they’ve done wrong. And if they’ve wronged other people, they go to them. So that’s what you do. You set up a time. You don’t do it by email. No, this is too important. This is sacred. You don’t do it over the phone if you can go face to face at a special time and say, “My dear son or daughter, you know I love you so much. How could I not love you? You’re my son. You’re my daughter.”

Now, you don’t bring up anything that they’ve done. You don’t say, “Well, you’ve hurt me.” No, no. Joe or Jane, humility here. And so you’re just softening their heart by taking the higher ground. So you’re not bringing up the arguments. You’re not bringing up what they did, no. You just, self-examination and confession.

“So my dear son, my dear daughter. I did my best. I think I succeeded in some ways as a parent but I failed in some ways. And I can see that so clearly now. And I just want to ask you to forgive me.” You know, as I’m saying this I’m tearing up. I’m just giving you an example because those kinds of moments are tear up moments. And you can break through the hardest hearts when you’re humble.

So you say, “Will you please forgive me?” And you’re not saying, “And then I want you to get down on your knees and repent.” No, no, no. No, no, no. Just, “Please, would you forgive me? I need your forgiveness. I need to feel that that’s clear between us.” And then watch what happens. I’d be very surprised if they say, “No, I don’t forgive you. And don’t ever walk in here again. I don’t want to see your face.”

No. People respond to humility like that and love like that. Then just sit back, and let’s just see what happens. That’s probably not a good time to be bringing up the gospel or spiritual things, pardon me, spiritual things, unless they open the door to that. Then you have to just gauge it and see. But wait for their reaction.

And if they say, “I forgive you,” and the chances are, if they have any decency at all, they’re probably going to respond by saying something like, “Oh, but, Mom or Dad, I bear some blame in this problem that we’ve had. And would you forgive me?” Oh, my goodness. Well, now, now, now, now we’ve made some progress, and it’s a different relationship.

And then, if it’s appropriate then, or maybe some other time, you just say, “You know, I love you so much. And you know your mom and your dad, you know we believe in Jesus, that he is the son of God.” Now don’t say, “We’re churchgoers, and we believe in voting for the right candidate.” Don’t. Go back to Jesus, because that’s the basis of everything. “We believe that Jesus Christ is God, and that He came to this earth, and he said things, and he revealed things. And then to cap it all off, He died according to the plan of God. And He died for our sins.

“And then we also believe that we’re all going to have to stand in front of Him one day. So dear son, dear daughter, can you understand? I’m your mom. I’m your dad. Nobody loves you like me. You came from me. You’re special. Can you understand? Even if you don’t agree with me, can you understand and sympathize why I would be concerned about you?”

And don’t talk about, “How you’re living your life. You’re going out to the bar.” Don’t. That’s peripheral stuff. It’s Jesus, right? What do you believe about Jesus? And people who believe that Jesus, son of God, their life changes for a number of reasons. One is because God puts his Holy Spirit in them. But secondly because they realize, “Oh, my goodness. I got to live to please this Jesus, because I’m going to stand before Him one day. And he turned the hinges on what I’m doing with Jesus, right? Right. Okay.

Okay, so that’s my first bit of advice for what you do with a prodigal. Now, I got one more big thing I want to say about your prodigal son or your daughter, but I’m out of time. So we’ll cover that next time. I hope you join me. Thanks for joining me this time. God bless you.